Jeremiah 49:1-39 – God’s Fury

Read Jeremiah 49:1-39

angel of death

We see five individual prophecies of doom in today’s reading. Each recipient of God’s wrath has a little different story, but what they share in common is proximity to Israel and Judah. Why do you think we need to see how God is going to deal with other nations?

It’s helpful to know God is fighting for those he loves. Sometimes it means he has to take control of those around us who are causing us harm or poised to do so. We don’t have to seek revenge. God does the heavy lifting for us. Here’s a little of what I took note of in my reflection of the text and research of who these nations were.

The Ammonites are the descendants of Ammon, another son born due to incestual relations between Lot and one of his daughters. Interesting that the prophecy refers to this people as a “rebellious daughter.” Even more surprising is God’s promise to restore. You may recall it was from the king of Ammon that the order came to kill Gedaliah, the Babylonian in charge of taking care of the remnant remaining in Judah.

Edom is where in present day we’d find southwestern Jordan. I took special note to God’s promise to protect the orphans and widows. Because I work with orphan children here in Mexico, I know firsthand how precious they are. I can’t begin to imagine how it must feel to be an orphan. I know plenty of widows, too, desperately missing their spouses. God’s heart is certainly tender for these lonely, vulnerable, defenseless people.

The prophecy for Damascus does not end with a promise of restoration or special protection.  Yet we know that Damascus, or a town by the same name, was in existence at the time of Paul’s conversion in Acts. God certainly got Saul’s attention that day on the road to Damascus. The reference here may be intended to include all of the Syrian people.

The inclusion of Kedar and Hazor is interesting. It’s the only prophecy in this grouping that names King Nebuchadnezzar as the attacker. Kedar was the name of Ishmael’s second son. You’ll recall Ismael was Isaac’s half-brother, born to Abraham through Sarah’s slave Hagar as he and Sarah waited for God’s provision. God chose to build his relationship with Isaac’s side of the family, particularly his younger son, Jacob.

Last, but not least, is Elam. This is the only prophecy mentioned here that has an actual time stamp and calls out that it is given by Jeremiah. Elam is another nation that God promises to restore, at least in terms of their fortunes. What do you think God meant when he said, “’I will set my throne in Elam,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will destroy its king and officials.’” I’m still wrestling with that one. The present-day location of Elam is the Iranian province of Khuzestan, so it was closer to Babylon and not a neighbor of Judah.

Reflecting on what was happening to areas in the region is helpful to see how thorough God is. He not only had to clean up the sinfulness of his own beloved nations of Israel and Judah, but he had to cleanse the surrounding areas as well so there would be less temptation when his people returned from exile. There is also the possibility that these nations, as rivals to the Israelites, had in some way harmed God’s people or taken from them in the past.

How does it make you feel to know your God is fighting battles for you even today? We may or may not be aware of all the spiritual warfare going on around us. Just because our story is not written in Scripture doesn’t mean it isn’t happening or of limited significance.

Let the truth of Romans 8:28 resonate with your heart today. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

colorful animation of prayer hands and hearts and flowers

Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for the battles you fight on my behalf. The evil one is crafty and continues trying to infiltrate my thoughts and intentions. Help me stand strong against the evil running rampant in this world. While reading about your fury and destruction is hard, it surprisingly helps me understand your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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